With Covid-19 cases spiking across America and NFL training camp approaching, the league delivered several much-needed rules for players who come in close contact with those who are positive for the virus or test positive. The NFL announced last week that it will shorten the preseason by two games in an effort to give players more time to prepare for the season. The guidelines below are the next step in the NFL’s preparation to run the 2020 season on time and in full.
Training camp will begin as schedule on July 28th, which gives coaches, front offices, and team physicians enough time to implement these new protocols tweeted out by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
- Note: the third point under “and individual has no symptoms:” was cut off, and reads: “And return has to be approved by the club physician after consultation with the ICS and NFL Chief Medical Officer.”
These guidelines are rather thorough and provide several layers of authority before an athlete can return to camp. This plan appears to be implemented directly by each team with oversight by the NFL and their ICS. ICS is the Incident Command System, which would be activated by the NFL to deal with each player’s health and illness.
The one escape clause in the NFL’s plan is if a player tests positive for Coronavirus but has no symptoms, they can be cleaned by the team after meeting with ICS and an NFL medical official. The concern would be that internal pressures would compel these team and league officials to allow a player back into contact with the rest of the team even though they could still be contagious. It allows for human discretion to take precedent over the medical needs of the sick individual.
Even though MLB training camp has kicked off and the NBA season is scheduled to start in a couple weeks, the NFL faces its own set of difficulties by the sheer scale of the roster and the nature of the sport. Keeping 90 players safe and healthy will take a mammoth effort by the NFL and each organization. The NFL does have a road map provided by the two other leagues to determine best practices for monitoring COVID cases, but no one knows how much exposure NFL players have coming into training camp.
I know that all you want is to not talk about COVID for one day, but similar to concussions, the rules must change to maintain player safety. If the players aren’t safe or feel safe enough to return, there really won't be any football to play or draw our attention to.